Dovecot, Koornhoop, Dixon Road, Mowbray, Cape Town





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Post date: 07/08/2012
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History: To the left of the wagon road and five kilometres from the Fort, in what is now called Mowbray Jan van Riebeeck granted land between February, 1657 and February 1658, to fourteen free burghers. He was forced to build a row of little forts or redoubts along the Liesbeeck River to protect the settlement against the Hottentots. He decided to locate one of these forts at Coornhoop and, bearing in mind that the free burghers were expected to devote time to the growing of wheat, called it “Fort Coornhoop”. On 9th July, 1657, the Commander personally selected the site for the fort. Workmen were transferred from the Fort of Good Hope and building commenced at the end of the month. The fort, which measured 5 metres square, was built of brick on stone foundations and had a wooden barricade at the top. By the end of September it had been completed, and Corporal Hendrik van Surwerden and trooper Elbert Dirkz van Eninerick were ordered to man it. When war was declared against the Hottentots in May, 1659, instructions were given that in case of danger, women and children were to take refuge in Coornhoop. Situated between wheat fields, the fort was abandoned as early as 1661, with the result that the farm Coornhoop, “with everything that has been built upon it”, was granted on 2nd March, 1664, in quitrent-tenure to M. Coninck. In the following year Coninck sold it to Tielman Hendricx who was murdered by Hottentots in 1673. After that the farm changed hands frequently. When it came into the possession of Servaas van Breda in 1797, the old H-shaped house, of which only the back portion survives, as well as the pigeon-house and the adjoining wine-cellars, must already have been very old. It was probably Van Breda who added several gables to the buildings and made the farmstead into one of the finest in the peninsula. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the place became more and more neglected and one building after the other was demolished. Finally the Simon van der Stel Foundation bought the property in 1961 and restored it in 1965. Only the dovecot with its front elevation, which is unique in Cape architecture and indeed the purest example of classical proportions, has been proclaimed as a monument.
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